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Black Tea vs Green Tea

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Black Tea vs Green Tea

Black Tea vs Green Tea

Differences and Benefits to Consider

May 31, 2023

 Are you comparing black tea vs green tea and looking to know more about what makes these iconic styles unique?

In this article, we’ll be getting to know what defines these two tea styles and sharing what makes for the best green tea and black tea in the world.

Here’s a big question:
is black or green tea
better for you?

The question might seem simple, but it’s hiding a more important point. 

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When it comes to health benefits and flavor, there’s far too much hype out there working to create anxiety about making the right choice. There’s not nearly enough consideration about where and how these teas are grown.

Let’s take a look at the big picture. Both green tea and black tea can be sweet, beautiful, healthy and aromatic, but only when craft, agriculture and sourcing are done right.

Laoshan Green Tea vs. Laoshan Black TeaLaoshan Green Tea vs. Laoshan Black Tea
Laoshan Green Tea vs. Laoshan Black Tea

Differences Between Green Tea and Black Tea (and Similarities)

Where does green tea come from? What about black tea? Green tea and black tea do not come from different tea plants. Instead, green tea and black tea are defined by the way they are finished in the workshop.

Green tea finishing is all about locking in the flavor and aroma of fresh-picked tea leaves, while black tea is all about bringing out sweet, dark and malty qualities.

Despite the difference between black and green tea, both teas have a lot in common:

Where They Are Grown

A tea’s quality is defined by the environment where it grows and the craft of the producer. While a region making green tea can also make black tea, in the real world, regions tend to specialize. Much of the flavor we associate with green tea vs black tea comes from the specific regions where these teas are most popular.

In China, for example, these regions are famous for producing certain types of tea:

Each of these regions gives unique flavor to their tea based on their weather, surrounding environments, local traditions and more.

For example, in Yunnan, tea can grow wild in ancient tea forests. This biodiversity contributes to a more complex black tea brew. In Shi Feng Dragonwell, the local sweet spring water and unique weather make for a particularly delicate green tea. In contrast, too much sun can lead to bitter tea, while weak tea can come from poor-draining soil or improper storage. Growing black tea and growing green tea both require biodiverse, cool, shaded environments to bring out the best in each style.

Processing

The difference between green tea and black tea is all about processing. You can taste the same tea leaves picked on the same day by the same family but try one green tea and one black tea. A good example of this is the He Family in Laoshan that produces Laoshan Green and Laoshan Black every year. So how is green tea made compared to black tea?

What is green tea made of? It takes fresh hand-picked tea leaves finished with masterful craft to make fine green tea.What is green tea made of? It takes fresh hand-picked tea leaves finished with masterful craft to make fine green tea.
What is green tea made of? It takes fresh hand-picked tea leaves finished with masterful craft to make fine green tea.

How They Are Prepared

The great thing about fine tea is that all the hard work is done in the fields and in the workshop. Brewing green tea and black tea is flexible, and your tea should taste good no matter what.

The biggest difference between green tea and black tea brewing? Green tea is usually infused at a lower temperature to protect its sweet delicate qualities, and black tea is usually brewed with water at full boil for big flavor. There is no hard and fast rule, but if you want to explore all the options, we’ve got a full brewing guide here.

One of our favorite techniques is the simple “leaves in water challenge.” Any good tea should taste great simply by adding leaves to a mug and topping it off with boiling water throughout the day.

Taste and Appearance

Distinctive craft and growing regions means that green tea vs black tea taste very different from each other. You can spot the difference at a glance, and confirm your guess from the aroma alone. No matter the growing region or precise finishing style, all green tea and black tea can be distinguished by some easy “tells”:

  • Green tea leaves are green in color. Black tea is dark red-brown in color. The only ‘trick’ is if you look at very old green tea, it can be closer to black as it oxidizes over time. 

  • Green tea smells vegetal, while black tea smells sweet and malty. Any green tea should have a ‘fresh’ smell like sweet grass, and herbaceous complexity. Black tea smells more chocolatey and dark.

  • What does black tea taste like? Black tea should be malty sweet and rich, with a reddish color. Green tea should be aromatic and vegetal with a light green color.

Does Green Tea or Black Tea Have More Caffeine?

It turns out that caffeine depends on a lot more than finishing style. Caffeine is going to be tied to how fresh the tea is, when it was picked, and exactly how you brew it.

Looking for non caffeinated green tea or black tea options? Learn about tisanes made using tea finishing techniques.

  • 'The culture of tea grew out of the way craft was applied to its finishing and preparation. Indeed, the word “tea” in English and 茶 (chá) in Chinese are separate and distinct from tisane or 荼 (tú) in order reflect this meticulous craft.'

Brewing up a pitcher of green teaBrewing up a pitcher of green tea
Brewing up a pitcher of green tea

Benefits of Black Tea vs Green Tea

So, is black tea or green tea better for you?

Black tea and green tea’s health benefits are much more closely related to the environment where the tea grew, and how fresh it is than whether the leaves were finished as green tea or black tea.

For peak antioxidants, look for teas grown without pesticides on biodiverse small family farms, picked at peak freshness and stored properly.

But what’s the healthiest tea? The one you like to drink the most!

Any tiny differences in benefits are outweighed by the fact that you have found a tea you want to drink more often.